Divorce in Georgia: 4 tips for helping kids handle the process

Divorcing parents should share the news carefully, help their kids know what to expect going forward, limit conflict and minimize other life changes.

According to data from the last U.S. Census, Georgia experiences one of the highest divorce rates in the country. This means that many parents in Atlanta may at some point find themselves going through this challenging process. Given research into the effects of divorce on children, most parents worry about navigating this life change in a manner that causes the least distress to their kids. Fortunately, parents can help their children cope more effectively with divorce by taking the following steps.

1. Break the news carefully

Parents should tell their children about the divorce in a safe, private setting that is free of disruptions. Although being honest and realistic is important, parents should avoid sharing nonessential details that may unnecessarily upset their kids. According to the Mayo Clinic, parents should remind each child that he or she is not responsible for the divorce and that the separation will not harm the child's relationship with either parent.

2. Set expectations

After learning that their parents are divorcing, children often have pragmatic concerns about issues such as where they will attend school or which house the family pets will live at. Therefore, if possible, parents should have some idea of the living arrangements, custody agreements and parenting plans that they may observe once the divorce is completed. At the same time, parents should be honest about plans that remain undetermined or might change later.

3. Minimize family conflict

During divorce, children may worry about being placed in the middle of the fighting or asked to choose between their parents. This makes it crucial for parents to shield their children from conflict as much as possible. Although this can be difficult during contested divorce proceedings, parents should aim to do the following things:

  • Avoid arguing in front of the children, especially about issues that relate to them, such as child support.
  • Do not ask a child for information about the other parent or use the child to deliver messages to the other parent.
  • Refrain from expressing negative thoughts about the other parent in front of the children.

To further reduce conflict, Today's Parent recommends that parents limit face-to-face interactions and discuss plans that pertain to their children in writing. This can promote clearer communication and prevent minor disagreements from escalating into serious disputes.

4. Avoid unnecessary changes

Stability is important for children, particularly younger ones. Many parents may view the time after a divorce as an ideal opportunity to make lifestyle changes or begin a fresh start, but they should remember that their children might feel unnecessary stress due to these adjustments. If a large change, such as a move to a new city, is not strictly necessary, parents may want to forgo or postpone it.

Finding a working arrangement

For most parents, identifying a parenting plan that honors the best interests of their children and makes it easier for them to cope with life after divorce can be challenging. For assistance crafting an effective custody and visitation agreement, parents should consider consulting with an experienced family law attorney.